Laurie Mylroie explains how that Senate report on Saddam’s ties to terrorism and WMD omitted some crucial information and took other information at face value without scrutiny.
Recently the Senate Intelligence Committee published the second phase of its investigation into Iraq. The document has an outrageously lengthy name: “Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Postwar Findings About Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments, Together with Additional Views.” It is a tendentious paper, reflecting Democratic posturing on the eve of the congressional elections. Four Republican senators on the committee complained in their dissent that it was written “with more partisan bias than we have witnessed in a long time in Washington.” That is an apt characterization of the section dealing with Iraq and terrorism.
The committee chose largely to ignore or discount information showing that Saddam Hussein’s regime was actively involved in terrorism from 1991 to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom for some years before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. One telling example is the statement of Centcom spokesman, General Vincent Brooks, on April 6, 2003, as American forces rushed toward Baghdad. General Brooks described an American raid on Salman Pak, a large Iraqi intelligence compound south of the city, stating: “This raid occurred in response to information that had been gained by coalition forces from some foreign fighters we encountered from other countries, not Iraq. And we believe that this camp had been used to train these foreign fighters in terror tactics, …one of a number of examples we’ve found where there is training activity happening inside of Iraq. It reinforces the likelihood of links between his regime and external terrorist organizations, clear links with common interests. Some of these fighters came from Sudan, some from Egypt, and some from other places.” Originally included in the report, General Brooks’ statement was removed by an 8-7 vote, with Republican Senator Hagel siding with the Democrats.
The millions of documents captured in Iraq fare little better in this review. Only a small fraction of the documents have been processed, but one American official familiar with them told this author that they nonetheless reveal such extensive Iraqi dealings with terrorists that they justify the war. Journalist Stephen Hayes reported in the Weekly Standard on January 16, that captured documents and photographs reveal that between 1999 and 2002, Saddam’s regime trained over 8,000 “radical Islamic terrorists” at three camps in Iraq, including Salman Pak.Read it all, and then weep for the partisanship that has replaced a desire to know the truth. I was in on a blogger conference call with some Senate Republicans at the time this document was released and I asked how this report could be issued as a definitive opinion when there were still so many documents that had not been translated. I was told this report dealt only with the information that had become known by that point in time. I was concerned that the report was being sold as final word on the question of ties between Iraq and terrorism, when there is still much that is not known. After reading Laurie Mylroie’s piece I now realize I should not have been worried about what was not yet known, but rather all the stuff that was known that was not included.